Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Plant Blogging

[This post is based on an article I wrote for the newsletters of the Wyoming Native Plant Society and the Great Plains Native Plant Society, in hopes of recruiting more local botanists into the phytoblogosphere.]
blog |bläg| (orig. web log) noun:  website where a person or group regularly posts news, information, opinions, photos, etc.;  verb: to add new material to a blog. blogosphere: the collective community of blogs. phytoblogosphere: that part of the blogosphere inhabited by plant bloggers.
I’ve come to love the blogosphere.  Most mornings over coffee I peruse the latest posts to see what my fellow nature lovers are doing, thinking, dreaming and puzzling over.  They write of their latest adventures, research or cool things they’ve stumbled upon.  Styles range from literary to academic, short to lengthy.  There are travel journals, photo galleries, the latest science news, nature stories, educational articles, and sometimes just random encounters and thoughts.

Blogging is yet another embodiment of democratization provided by the internet.  It’s a way we common folk can experience the satisfaction of publishing, of expressing ourselves, of sharing our interests and excitement with like-minded people all over the world.  The pool of potential readers and writers is enormous.  With a little effort, we can find just the right audience for our posts, just the right bloggers to follow, and just the right part of the blogosphere to inhabit.  You might consider joining us, if you haven’t already.
Lucy of Loose and Leafy kindly keeps a tree-following page.
You might consider joining, it’s fun!  Used with permission.
Setting up a blog is easy.  The popular platforms, Blogger, TypePad and WordPress.org, provide guidance and templates.  You don’t need to know HTML, and adding photos, videos and locations is simple.  It also is very easy to create a bad blog.  Fortunately there’s excellent advice available, including blogs about blogging.  Blogging Basics 101 has good posts for beginners, starting with How Do I Start a Blog?  If you have fame and fortune in mind, see the Blogging Starter Checklist (be prepared for lots of shameless self-promotion).

There is so much more to consider.  What is your niche?  What do you want to write about and in what style? long? short? humorous? serious? photo-rich? creatively-written?  The best way to decide is by reading lots of blogs (see list below).  Scan the ones they recommend.  Figure out why you like the ones you do.  Don’t be afraid to experiment, and don’t hesitate to change your blog when new ideas come to mind.
As Blogger says “Your blog is whatever you want it to be ... there are no real rules.”  Be creative.  Notes of Nature came up with a cool Five Fact Friday series.  Used with permission.
I stumbled into the blogosphere several years ago while planning a vacation.  With Google’s help, I found terrific blog posts about areas of interest, filled with descriptions, recommendations, photos, maps and links.
While planning a trip to the San Rafael Swell, I discovered Written in Stone, a great resource for nature-geeks.  Photo of San Rafael Reef by Jack Share, used with permission.
After happily wandering through the blogosphere for several days, I thought “I can do this too!” and started my own blog, In the Company of Plants and Rocks.  It accommodates my diverse natural history interests, as reflected in the header:  subalpine wildflowers in Precambrian stromatolites in the Medicine Bow Mountains of southeast Wyoming.

At first I was all alone, casting my creations out into the vast space of the blogosphere where it seemed they couldn’t possibly be found, but eventually, amazingly, they were.  There were more and more hits, some from far corners of the earth.  I signed up to follow blogs of interest, and commented on posts I especially liked.  My circle grew.  And then I discovered blog carnivals.
blog carnival: a collection of blog posts on a specific topic; hosted by an inhabitant of that part of the blogosphere.
Carnivals are one of the great joys of the blogosphere.  I attend two regularly:  Accretionary Wedge, a geocarnival, and Berry Go Round, a phytocarnival.  Each month, the host compiles a list of posts based on readers’ submissions and other sources, and publishes them in a summary post.  Carnivals are very good places to find blogs to follow, and to get your posts out for others to read.
I hosted Accretionary Wedge #43, the topic was My Favorite Geological Illustration.  Mine is a "Bird’s Eye View of the Black Hills" from 1875.  Click illustration to view details, including birds.
“Have you posted anything related to plant science lately?
Then your post is probably suitable for Berry Go Round.”
Blogging is a great way to share what’s going on in your botanical life, and I highly recommend giving it a try.  Are you already a phytoblogger in the Rockies or Great Plains?  If so, please add a link to your site as a Comment below.  And consider joining a Berry Go Round carnival (go here for details).  I’m the host for March and would love to include botanical news from our region.
The highlight of a recent vacation was communing with bristlecone pines in the White Mountains of eastern California -- ancient plants on ancient rocks.

Some plant blogs I read, in no particular order:

The Artful Amoeba, a favorite, occasionally posts about plants, e.g. The surprising world of cyads (especially their sperm).

A local (South Dakota) botanist writes about North America’s Native Plants at Suite 101, not exactly a blog but close.

Teton Plants is a brand new blog, by the Teton Chapter of the Wyoming Native Plant Society.  It features walks, hikes, lectures and other plant news from the Grand Teton area.

Get Your Botany On! recently has been blogging about Green in Winter, featuring plants peeking through snow.

A Digital Botanic Garden has beautiful photos, as does Beyond the Human Eye, his microscopy blog.

Moss Plants and More is a good resource for all things bryological, e.g. Why are moss plants so short?

See No seeds, no fruits, no flowers: no problem for adventures in fern biology.

Cornell Mushroom Blog recently featured “Zap! Lightning, Gods, and Mushrooms” and “I ate fungus slime, and it made my breath minty fresh” (that would be your mouthwash).

Seeds Aside.  “Plant gossips… are almost cotton!”, a curious title and interesting blog.

AoB Blog  User-friendly posts on a variety of topics from The Annals of Botany and AoB Plants.

Plantwise  Blog of the Plantwise initiative to improve food security and lives of the rural poor by reducing crop losses.

Notes of Nature offers a nice diversity of plant posts, including the Five Fact Friday series.

Catalog of Organisms sometimes features plants (encourage him!), e.g. When Ferns Don’t Look Like Ferns.

The Daily Plant is always interesting, “A surprising look at the plants around us and how they've influenced our world.”

Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog is “anything we find ... that relates somehow to the notion of agricultural biodiversity ... a big tent but one that the whole of humanity shelters beneath.”

Alien Plantation “Plants and people change, evolve, together.  We take advantage of them ... And they take advantage of us.”

At Loose and Leafy you can join Lucy on virtual excursions around coastal Dorset.  She also has a tree-following page.

Foothills Fancies  The subtitle tells it all:  Small Wonders and Natural Moments; Life and Nature in the Colorado Front Range.

Treeblogging.com is “a forest of arboreal links” leading to tree- and forest-related content from around the world.

California Wildflower Hikes (and some outside the state) ... how cool is this?!  We need one for our part of North America.


Nature Blog Network is a large collection of blogs ranked by number of page views.  Search on “flora” for plant posts.

scienceblogging is an aggregate of aggregates! -- testimony to blogging’s rapid growth.

Need still more plant reading?  Check out these sites:  Top 50 Botany Blogs and Top 100 Botany Blogs.

And don't rule out Facebook!  The Wyoming Native Plant Society has a Facebook page where you can find out about events, hikes, and more.  See what members are doing, and consider adding photos and commentary of your own.


  1. I found your blog via Lucy. Rocks and plants, me too!

  2. Great list of plant blogs! I'm looking forward to wandering through each one.

    1. Thanks Joy! ... and maybe consider contributing to BGR!! (March announcement soon)

  3. Thank you for submitting this post to our February Berry-Go-round carnival! It is now up at Foothills Fancies. Happy reading!

    1. Thank you for hosting! interesting collection, definitely worth checking out: